Have you ever started reading a long sentence or paragraph and suddenly become lost? It happened to me today when I was reading bios on a company’s website.
I thought “Why am I getting so confused here?” Then I realized – many of the sentences were missing either their subject or their verb. Or, in some cases, both. They were perhaps 20 words long, but they weren’t “going anywhere.”
Who did what? Who is what?
These sentences were better suited to be broken down into bullet points – with some kind of introductory sentence to tell the reader what he or she was looking at.
Of course, this kind of “sentence” is often used as a bullet point in a resume’ – and I suspect that’s where these came from. Someone forgot that a bio should be conversational. They just took points from a resume' and stuck them into a long paragraph.
You know what matters...
By now everyone who visits the Rain regularly knows that making your posts, letters, and webpages visually inviting is darn near as important as the content you write. Thus, you know paragraphs should be short, with white space between them.
You also know that bullet points add interest and simplify reading.
So if you ever find yourself writing a long, rambling sentence, first check to make sure it includes both a subject and a verb – then see if the information wouldn’t read best if presented as bullet points, which don't have to be complete sentences.
One more thing…
Those bios also included a few “$40 words” that didn’t quite fit. In fact, they were improperly used. That led to a bit more confusion.
You know that most copywriters advise against using any words that a 7th grader won’t clearly comprehend. That advice still holds. But if you’re tempted to use a word that’s a bit more sophisticated, and think it's one your audience will understand, be sure to look up the meaning first.
It’s easy and only takes a minute – just type it into your search bar. That's exactly what I did when I saw those words - just to be sure I wasn't wrong about their definitions.
You don’t want anyone thinking you’re trying to impress but don’t know what you’re saying!
The worst thing about that kind of writing...
Once your reader starts focusing on the words instead of the message, the message is doomed. If they're busy figuring out why the page is somehow "off," they're not thinking "This is the agent for me."
Graphic courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net